Swim cover-ups have come a long way over the years. There are so many styles and materials from which to choose, and some can even pass as outfits on their own. There’s no reason to get overwhelmed by all the choices, though. We’ve divided them into categories so you can narrow them down from there. Find one that suits your purpose (lounging by the pool, chasing after the kids or braving the water slides, for example), and then narrow it down by color or pattern. You’ll see that shopping for a swimsuit cover-up can be quite fun!
A kaftan cover-up is likely one of the most popular wardrobe items that come to mind when people think of swim cover-ups. Dating back centuries in the Middle East and Asia, kaftans typically feature intricate patterns and have an elegant way of flowing behind you when you walk. Kaftan (or caftan) cover-ups may look like a robe in that they can be tied in the middle or left to hang on their own; they also tend to be longer than other types of cover-ups. Pair yours with some oversized sunglasses and dainty sandals, and you’ll look like royalty.
Crochet is all over the runways this year, and a crochet cover-up can give you that relaxed bohemian look that makes you stand out from the crowd. They can be as embellished as you like, perhaps with some fringes hanging off the sleeve or hem. Just remember to choose a color that matches your swimsuit because there will be more showing through a crochet cover-up than a typical solid one with more material.
Rash guards have a funny name, especially because nowadays they aren’t necessarily intended to protect from rashes. The name originated from their ability to protect surfers against chafing that they would get from being on their surfboards. While the name has stuck, the purpose has evolved to a popular shirt-style cover-up that you can wear over your swimsuit to protect from UV rays. Rash guards come in so many different styles and colors you can’t even tell that they’re intended for the water. Their quick-drying properties make them great alternatives to a typical shirt as a cover-up.
There may be times when you don’t want a cover-up really covering up too much of you, specifically your top half. A swimsuit with a skirt or a swim skirt cover-up on its own can be great for when you are walking along the beach or hanging out next to the pool. If it’s a swimsuit cover-up skirt you’re looking for, you’ll have to narrow it down by length. You can get some that are quite short and others that are long and flowy, like those in a wrap-style with a slit up the side. Of course, you can find one with a length that’s in between, as well.
Sarong swimsuit cover-ups are the most versatile option out there, as they’re basically a long piece of fabric that you can use to wear however you want. That means you can wear it as a skirt that you tie to the side, a strapless dress tied at the bust, a dress tied over one shoulder — the options are endless. Sarongs are typically made of thin material so you can easily tie it and customize to your liking.
A dress designed specifically to be a cover-up can look just like other regular women's dresses, so no one will know you even have on a swimsuit underneath. It can be any style and made of any type of fabric, but keep in mind that a thinner fabric will keep you cool and likely dry more quickly over a wet swimsuit. If you’re trying to find one that best matches your style, consider the type of swimsuit you’ll be wearing underneath. Do you like the strapless look? Go for a strapless dress cover-up and then decide whether you want it to be long or short. In contrast, maybe a T-shirt cover-up dress that you can just throw on over your suit is more your style, or a maxi cover-up dress with spaghetti straps — perhaps both! Having a couple on hand to choose from is great.
Just be sure to check the material to make sure it is quick-drying and doesn’t wrinkle too easily when tossed into a beach bag. Remember that different resorts have different dress codes. For example, what’s acceptable to wear at a poolside café will be different than what you can wear at an indoor restaurant. If you’re going from the beach or pool directly to lunch or dinner, taking the dress code into consideration will help you decide on the right cover-up for you.